Tag Archives: tournament

Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour Champion and Magic-Strategy Coach

Just this past week, we notified Power 9 Pro customers that we’re launching another series of MtG workshops led by Luis Scott-Vargas. We definitely wanted to keep our blog readers up to date too!

I’m especially excited to have Luis Scott-Vargas on as an instructor/coach with Power 9 Pro. It’s taken a lot of juggling of schedules but we finally figured out all the details just in time for an excellent finish to 2009.

If you don’t know Luis (often endearingly called LSV by the Magic community) from his win at Pro Tour Berlin or numerous top 8′s at multiple GPs and Pro Tour events, you may know him from his “Drafting with LSV” series on YouTube/Channel Fireball. Regardless of how you first heard about LSV, his record is extremely impressive.
His most notable finishes include:

  • 1st – Nationals 2007
  • 1st – GP San Francisco 2007
  • 3rd/4th – GP Philadelphia 2008
  • 1st – Pro Tour Berlin 2008
  • 1st – GP Atlanta 2008
  • 1st – GP Los Angeles 2009
  • 2nd – Pro Tour Kyoto 2009

LSV is a great new addition to the instructor base at Power 9 Pro, where he’ll be able to leverage years of article writing as well as his foray into online video. He’s written content for BlackBoarder and Channel Fireball, conducted interviews with WotC and much more. Power 9 Pro Online Workshops are the next step in LSV’s consistently giving nature that always results in a fostering of the Magic the Gathering community and player base.

There are numerous benefits to the online workshops for players, the most notable of which is summed up by “Learn from the best to be the best.” Truly top-level coaching is hard to come by and here’s your chance to dive deep into relevant discussions on Magic. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions about what cards to include when evaluating your sideboard options–whether prep’ing for an FNM or Grand Prix Trial. LSV himself is excited to share his insights into drafting Zendikar. His perspectives from over 1200 matches (not counting MTGO!) will be leveraged for your benefit. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. The last workshop of 2009 is a “Deck Doctor” format which means you can send in your deck for LSV to make a list of adjustments. See how he would adjust the card base for optimum results for your deck. Talk about an unique experience!

Here’s an example clip from our recent workshop series led by Ben Lundquist.

You can learn more about the workshops at power9pro.com/workshops or in another recent blog post.

Further information about Luis Scott-Vargas is located at wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Scott-Vargas. You can also read some of his latest articles at Channel Fireball where he also does a weekly video-cast called Magic TV. LSV has also written for notable Magic the Gathering strategy sites Black Boarder and Starcity Games, though his writing is exclusively available on Channel Fireball as of early 2009.

FYI, if you sign up for Power 9 Pro’s (very infrequent) newsletter, we’ll send you a mp3 clip with Ben Lundquist discussing the in’s-and-out’s of the Metagame. This single 2 min clip alone will help you make better choices when it comes to what decks to expect at the next tournament and how to track the best decks in a format. We’re happy to provide this as a small sample of what Power 9 Pro aims to accomplish with our workshops.

As always, we want to hear from you. If you have workshop topic requests, thoughts or concerns, feel free to lets us know in the comments. I can also be followed on twitter where I post updates, commentary and discussions with fellow MtG players. :)

Magic Grand Prix 2010 Schedule Announced

Wizard’s has announced the GP lineup for 2010 and I have to say it looks great. Lots of variability–something I felt was missing from this year’s schedule which featured a ton of limited.

Here’s the schedule:

Dates City Country Format Feeds PT
Feb. 13-14 Oakland USA Extended San Juan
Feb. 27-28 Madrid Spain Legacy San Juan
March 13-14 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Standard San Juan
March 20-21 Yokohama Japan Extended San Juan
March 27-28 Brussels Belgium Standard San Juan
April 3-4 Houston USA Extended San Juan
May 8-9 Lyon France “Prosper” Limited Amsterdam
May 22-23 Baltimore USA Standard Amsterdam
June 5-6 Sendai Japan Standard Amsterdam
June 12-13 Manila Philippines Standard Amsterdam
July 31-Aug. 1 Columbus USA Legacy Amsterdam
Aug. 28-29 Gothenburg Sweden M11 Limited PT 2011 #1
Sept. 11-12 Portland USA M11 Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 9-10 Sydney Australia “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 23-24 Toronto Canada “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Oct. 30-31 Bochum Germany “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Nov. 13-14 Nashville USA “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1
Nov. 27-28 Florence Italy “Lights” Limited PT 2011 #1

And of course we’re all looking for those especially coveted foil cards and the 2010 GPs have a Whopper for us: Umezawas Jitte!!!!

Here’s a look at the actual new art.

So what do you think? Excited? Will we be seeing you at one of these GPs? Which GP are you most excited about attending? On a personal level I’m excited about having a fairly local GP (Oakland).

Match Walk-through: Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid

In the following video, Stan, Bryan and I take an in depth look at Elementals vs Five Color Bloodbraid (or Five Color Cascade).
The builds for these deck are as follows:

Five Color Bloodbraid:

Hope this is helpful for you as you evaluate decks and look for in-game tips. If you spot any plays you disagree with or think were particularly clever, be sure to let us know in the comments!

Is it a plane? No, It’s a Magic Format!

Well loyal readers, I’m back to talk about the more casual side of Magic.  The subject of today’s discussion will be what is almost undoubtedly my favourite Magic variant format.  This format can be played as a duel, or in multiplayer games.  Similar to Elder Dragon Highlander, cards that are generally seen as sub-par are stars of the show.  Like Pauper, it’s great for new players, and as long as one person is willing to put in the time beforehand to make it work, games can be played at any time, for as long as you want with little set-up.  Like Type 4, a turn-one Akroma, Angel of Wrath is quite possible, as is a turn-two Wrath of God to send her to the graveyard. The format can be explained in a few short sentences, which makes it much more accessible to a wide range of Magic players.  This format is a favourite of players at my local shop, and it has only been discussed a handful of times on the internet, and not nearly in enough detail.  This format is known as DC10.

I can’t honestly say that I know where the name DC10 comes from, but I do know that this format is a great way to kill time between rounds.  If I see someone who’s done their match at a tournament, I usually ask if they’ll play DC10.  When they ask what it is, I say the following:

1. Communal Deck & Graveyard
2. Players have infinite mana
3. Players do not draw an opening hand
4. Everything else is like normal Magic.

I then proceed to take out my DC10 stack and we’ll play a few games, and sure enough I’ll have more players for the next time there is extra time to kill.

However, in order for this to work, someone (in this case me, but 2 or 3 other people at my store have as well) must make a DC10 stack.  The following are the guidelines I use when deciding whether or not a card makes it into my stack.

1. The card must not be broken.

New players always ask me what happens in DC10 when someone plays Fireball.  My answer is simple – Fireball is not in the deck.  Nor are Blaze, Demonfire, Banefire, Disintegrate, or anything remotely resembling Firebreathing.  These cards are obviously broken in a format with infinite mana, and they would make the game a whole lot less fun.

2. The card must be fun and sufficiently powerful.

Nobody wants to play a Llanowar Elves in a format with infinite mana, as it would soon get outclassed.  For this reason, common judgement should be used when deciding to put a card into the stack.  I ask myself, “Would I be happy to draw this card in 90% of all situations?”  If the answer is no, the card does not make the cut.  Another card that, while not terribly weak, but just not fun would be Traumatize.  Sure, a player could then proceed to flashback or unearth a bunch of cards and win that way, but then you have to go through the process of milling half the stack, and that takes up time that could be spent playing.

3. There must only be one copy of the card in a deck.

This helps keep games fun and varying.  Playing a playset of each card is not nearly as fun as having 4 times as many different cards.  Thus, I consider DC10 to be a singleton format.

Another thing that players quickly find out about DC10 is that card drawing is extremely powerful.  Thus, cards like Tidings and Concentrate are not put in the stack.  However, I have begun to include Esper Charm in mine, because it can do other things, even if it just trades for two more cards most of the time.  An exception to this rule is Biomantic Mastery (pictured), because how many times are you ever going to resolve that in your lifetime?  As well, although it usually helps a person win the game, it paints a giant target on their face in a multiplayer game.

It should be noted that cards that involve all players drawing cards should be included, as they make for some wild and wacky combos that would otherwise never see the light of play.  I’m talking about cards like Wheel of Fortune, Temporal Cascade, Memory Jar, Sway of the Stars, etc.

Each group has its own rules regarding search effects.  I personally do not include “carte blanche” tutors, like Diabolic Tutor or Demonic Tutor.  However, I believe there is a certain skill in using restrictive tutors like Summoners Pact, Idyllic Tutor, and Knowledge Exploitation.  We usually impose a time limit of one minute on search effects, as well as limiting the player to searching only the stack which has been placed on the table (Due to the large nature of the stack, only a handful of cards are placed on the table for each game, and the rest are kept in a box for when the stack runs low).

Another mistake that new players make is that there are no lands in the deck.  This is simply not true.  Many games are decided by an activated Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, and Prahv, Spires of Order have been known to give a player enough time to get back on their feet.

Where card draw is extremely powerful in DC10, discard is extremely poor.  Most times, players will not have any cards in their hand, and thus will render a Thoughtseize or Duress useless.  The only cards a player is likely to hold back are cards that can be played at instant speed, and will thus make discard spells often fizzle.

While it’s great to have cards like Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Titanic Ultimatum in the deck, it is important to include lots of removal for these types of cards.  It is important to not discriminate against cards because of other ones.  For example, if you were to include Terror in your stack, Dark Banishing is still a fine addition, as it still has a purpose, and a player will be as happy to draw it as they would a Terror.  The same goes for countermagic: Cancel, Counterspell and Cryptic Command all have a place in the deck.

Because DC10 is often played with more than two people, it does a reasonable job of teaching newer players how priority and the stack work.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the mechanics of a multiplayer game, priority goes in Active Player, Non-Active Player order in a clockwise fashion.  In short, the person whose turn it is gets a chance to play abilities when the stack is empty, and after any other effect is added to the stack, players may respond by going clockwise from the effect’s controller.  Thus, it is important for the active player to know about graveyard effects such as flashback, because they are the ones who get to play them, lest they pass their turn (and the effects in question) to their opponents.

When creating a DC10 stack of your own, it is important to remember a few logistical principles.  First and foremost: sleeve your stack.  Because cards like Wrath of God, Cryptic Command, and Force of Will are often included in DC10 stacks, sleeving is important should you ever need the cards for a constructed purpose.  I personally use penny sleeves for my stack, as they are cheap and relatively effective at protecting your cards.  However, if you have some extra cash, go ahead and by some nicer sleeves.

The second principle is to keep your stack relatively together.  Do you remember the boxes from the 10th Edition Release event with Kamahl, Pit Fighter on them?  That’s what I use for my stack.  However, over a year or so of wear, I’m needing to find a new box, which will probably be one of those long card-storage boxes you find at game shops.

Then comes the unfortunate matter of shuffling.  Because stacks tend to be quite large, it can be an ordeal to randomize it.  Unfortunately, not randomizing it will ned up with you playing the same game over and over again, and randomness is a large part of what makes DC10 fun.  Thus, if you have some time will watching TV to kill, give the stack a good pile shuffle, I personally create between thirty and fifty stacks when I do this.  If this seems too daunting, one of the things I do is break it out before the tournament starts.  People who know what your stack is are almost always willing to help shuffle as long as they get to get in on the action when it’s done.

I wanted to show you a sample game of DC10, so I sat down at our kitchen table with my brother.  I had gotten a bunch of cards shipped in that day, so I was eager to see how they played out.  Unfortunately, reliable is one thing that DC10 is not, and so I will show you what my notes looked like for game 1.

That’s right, I drew and played a turn 1 Barren Glory.  With my brother Jay’s draw yielding an irrelevant spell (and by irrelevant, I mean non-Disenchant), we were a little dumbfounded.  Coincidentally, Barren Glory was one of the cards that had been shipped in that day and added to the stack.

Although moments like that do occur in DC10, they are not what the format is all about.    So we put the two cards from the first game aside and started again.

Jay and I both passed our first turns, and Jay made a Synod Sanctum on his second turn.  I then cast Rivers Grasp to make him discard a Battle Mastery.  He resolved a Windbrisk Raptor on his turn which threatened to swing the game in his favour.  Luckily I had a Fissure for the raptor and a Shadowmage Infiltrator to add to my board.  Jay put his Raptor underneath his Sanctum in response to my kill spell, so I had to make sure I saved removal for when it came back.

Jay got a Saltblast on his next turn, and when he tried to draw on his next turn I was waiting with a Plagiarize in the upkeep.  After passing a couple turns Jay called back his raptor off his sanctum at my end step and attacked on his turn.  Then he added insult to injury by casting a Heroes Remembered.

On my turn I cast a Necrotic Sliver, but before taking out his raptor, I used Pentarch Ward to draw an extra card.  The card I drew was a Steelshapers Gift, and I searched out a Heartseeker.  The Sliver then traded with the Raptor and it was Jay’s play.

Because the 25 life Jay had gained thus far was clearly not enough, he then cast a Tower of Eons for another 10 life.

I was enthralled to draw Azami, Lady of Scrolls, which I promptly played and turned sideways to draw a card.  The Wirefly Hive I drew got played and a Gerrards Command untapped my wizard, which drew me another card.  After failing the toss on the Hive, I passed the turn.

Jay gained another 10 life on his upkeep, and cast Vulturous Zombie, which was met with Incinerate from myself.  Azami proved her usefulness again on my turn by drawing me another card, and I was able to cycle Resounding Thunder to burn Jay for 6.  A Trevas charm pulled a Merfolk Looter impression into a Harmonic Sliver, which would halt any more shenanigans from his Tower.  Jungle Weaver cycled for another card, and Dralnu, Lich Lord came down on my side.  Lastly, a Wirefly token hit my side.

Jay Gloomlanced Dralnu and played a Weight of Conscience on my Sliver.  I drew another extra card on my turn and used Heartseeker to pump my token, and then swung in for 4.  Afterwards, I played a Copperhoof Vorrac to bolster my forces.

My double draw effect was matched by a Scepter of Insight from Jay, and a Hamletback Goliath came down on the opposite side of the field.  Heartseeker took it down and my Vorrac attacked Jay.  He made a Teneb, the Harvester and a Kederekt Creeper.  I shot both of them, courtesy of Heartseeker.  A Blood Tyrant came down for me, and Jay was able to cast a Tower of Champions.  He was able to kill my equipment with a Demolish, and I was able to untap with Blood Tyrant in play, and he became a 7/7.  I also cast a Murkfiend Liege and a Ronom Hulk after swinging in with my vampire.

Jay’s turn saw him play a Spike Tiller and a Bringer of the Red Dawn, and I drew a new card with the newly-untapped Azami at the end of turn.  After powering up my Blood Tyrant, I cast Iname as One, searching out Divinity of PrideAethermages Touch then netted me a copy of Wort, the Raidmother.  I finally cast a Violent Ultimatum, and drew the concession from Jay.

Not all DC10 games are like this.  Some are much longer, and others (like the first game mentioned above) are extremely short.  Nevertheless, DC10 is one of the greatest casual formats ever, and I’ve been known to get 5 or 6 player games extremely easily at my school whenever I bring the stack.  In the next week or so I’ll work at typing up a list of my stack and putting it online, but with 300-400 cards (an estimate) I don’t have the time for it right now.  I encourage all of you to try making a DC10 stack, and either post in the comments or email me about your experiences with the format.  A DC10 stack does not have to be expensive, and some of the best cards in my stack come out of the dollar rare bin at my local card shop.  You’ll gain lots of friends at tournaments really fast if you have a stack, not to mention the hours of fun DC10 can provide.

If you have any questions or comments about today’s article, or any suggestions for future articles, email me at zak -at- power9pro.com.  You can also message me on twitter, my account is www.twitter.com/zturchan.

Regionals: Reflections

Well, after a rather grueling set of computer science exams I’m back and ready to talk Magic. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Regionals were last weekend and I’ve got some stories to share.

We left Edmonton at 6 in the morning on the 16th, and got into Calgary at 9:30, with plenty of time to tweak my decklist. I met two other players, both named David, and we chatted about our decks and the expected metagame. Between the three of us we had a black-white tokens player, a Blightning player, and a Faeries player (myself), and I leant out a few Reflecting Pools and Windbrisk Heights to the tokens deck because I wasn’t using them. All I had to hope was that those cards didn’t end up across the table from me.

After decklists were collected and all the participants were given either a promo Hellspark Elemental or a Path to Exile, the tournament was ready to begin.

Here’s the deck I ended up using:


Round 1: Maes
A first-turn Aunties Hovel elicited a groan from myself as I prepared to face what was probably one of the decks worst matchups, the Blightning Deck. The fact that I didn’t draw a Bitterblossom the whole game was a blessing in disguise, because I was able to survive his barrage of burn spells and efficient creatures. Vendilion Clique was the MVP of the game, with it both sucking up a burn spell and taking out a Flame Javelin from his hand when it came down. Eventually, my cliques (both Vendilion and Mistbind) just got there and pulled out the victory, with me hanging on at a single point of life.

In game two I was able to capitalize on the presence of Vendilion Clique into a turn 4 Mistbind Clique to keep up the pressure on Maes’ crew of red beaters. The game ended up being decided by him playing a Thought Hemorrhage to make me discard a Loxodon Warhammer, instead of playing a Flame Javelin on my Mistbind Clique. With him at 6, he forgot to realize that I had a Faerie Conclave that would deal exactly enough to push his life total to zero.


Round 2: Taylor
Taylor is a prominent online personality on the Alberta Magic forums, viewable at www.sc2gg.com/magic, and this was the first time I had played a constructed match against him. After winning round 1 against Blightning, I was hoping that that would be the only red-black deck I would see for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, that was not to be, as Taylor used a first-turn Aunties Hovel to put a Mogg Fanatic into play. When I managed to Vendilion Clique him, I saw a hand full of cards like Hellspark Elemental, Anathemancer, and Demigod of Revenge. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed and started to shuffle up for the second game.

Taylor hit a bit of a land flood in the beginning of the game, which I capitalized on. By Cliquing him out of his best cards and keeping up the pressure, I was able to win with 11 life remaining. However, I did see that Taylor had sideboarded in Banefire, which promised to be difficult to deal with.

In the third game, Taylor and I traded blows for a while, but he was able to land a set of two Anathemancers, which took me down to a sparse 3 life, and he had one ready to unearth. Then I made my second biggest mistake of the tournament. With both the mana open and a Cryptic Command in my hand, I foolishly said “OK” when Taylor asked me if his intentions to attack were valid. Rather than tapping down his creatures and coming back to win with a Faerie Conclave that I had in play, I had no option but to bounce one of his attackers and chump the other with my man-land. Drawing no answers to the Anathemancer in his graveyard, I passed the turn and promptly lost.


Round 3: Chuck
Chuck, it turns out was playing Twinsanity, a deck that uses Sanity Grinding and Twincast to mill the opponent. Fortunately, this deck is one of Faeries’ best matchups, and I was able to simply use Bitterblossom and an array of counterspells to stop his deck in its tracks, and game 2 was very much the same.


Round 4: Lane
Lane is one of the better players at Wizard’s Comics in Edmonton, and he had also made the trip down to Calgary to play in the tournament. I knew he was playing either Black-White Tokens or Bant, based on what I had seem him testing at FNM, and it turned out to be the former. Unfortunately, a pilot as strong as Lane combined with a deck like his turned out to be quite an obstacle for me, a slightly above-average player with a deck that had only a 35-65 matchup pre-board.

I landed a turn two Bitterblossom, but Lane had the ever-present Zealous Persecution, as well as Tidehollow Sculler and Kitchen Finks to bolster his side of the board. I managed to keep Glorious Anthem out of his hand with Vendilion Clique and Thoughtseize, but a timely Cloudgoat Ranger and Ajani Gomdmane spelt defeat for my Faeries.

I brought in the big guns out of the sideboard for game two, including 3 Infest, 2 Evacuation, and two more Thoughtseize in the hopes of making it harder for the tokens deck to stabilize. Alas it was not to be, as my Evacuation only delayed the inevtable as a double Bitterblossom for Lane proved to overwhelm me, while he gained life from Kitchen Finks.


Round 5: Ian
Ian was playing Jund Ramp, a deck that I hadn’t tested against. All that I needed in the first game was a Scion of Oona, a Spellstutter Sprite, and a Loxodon Warhammer for me to end the game at 30 life.

Out of the board came Sower of Temptation, as Faeries can often not handle Chameleon Colossus, as well as Thoughtseizes to strip him of any potential threats, However, he had a fast start witch Kitchen Finks and Chameleon Colossus, and none of the cards I drew were of any major consequence.

In the third game, I resolved an early Bitterblossom which basically won the game single-handedly, although a late Mistbind Clique was able to ensure that the game was mine. The hand disruption that I had (7 slots total) was more than worth it to ensure that the likes of Chameleon Colossus and Broodmate Dragon never saw play.


Round 6: David
Believe it or not, this was not one of the two David’s that I hung out with before the tournament. This was actually a guy I had played at FNM the week before, and had lost to with a worse version of the same deck. He was also playing the same deck, and the match started off much the same as it had a week prior. I was able to take the first game easily, only having to play carefully around a Qasali Pridemage.

I knew from the previous week that David would have Scattershot Archers in the board, so I brought in Infests to kill them. Sure enough, David played the Faerie-killer on turn one, and was able to back it up with a second one. I didn’t see any Infests, and I lost to his perpetual onslaught of creatures.

Game 3 was a lucky one. When David tried to cast his archers on turn 3, I had Spellstutter Sprite. David then played a Path to Exile, in hopes of being able to resolve the Scattershot, but I animated my Mutavault by tapping itself to ensure the counter resolved, and I was able to fetch another land. The next turn I resolved a Mistbind Clique on his upkeep, and believe it or not, did the same thing 3 turns in a row, effectively Time Walking the deck that had no answers. Sure enough, my 4/4 fliers came in and won me the game.


Round 7: Lorenzo
Lorenzo is the brother of Marcel, an Edmonton player who has played on the Pro Tour. He’s almost as good as his brother, and I was happy to see the 5-colour control sitting across the table from me, as the matchup is generally slanted in Faeries favour, although the presence of Volcanic Fallout is something to be worried about.

In the first round, I countered all of Lorenzo’s spells and resolved a Mistbind Clique during his upkeep, and Bitterblossom was able to seal the deal.

In game 2, I made the worst mistake of the tournament. I kept a hand consisting of Underground River, double Bitterblossom, Mistbind Clique and triple Cryptic Command, thinking that if I didn’t draw a land I could always come back in the third game. A foolish mistake, to be sure and I didn’t draw another land for two turns on the draw, and promptly lost the game. The final nail in the coffin was Lorenzo casting Thought Hemorrhage, naming Cryptic Command without any prior information and stripped my hand, dealing 9 points to my head and eliminating my most powerful spells from the game. I blame this loss on myself 100%, as I got greedy.

In game 3, I got hit with multiple Anathemancers and Lorenzo was able to resolve a second Wall of Reverence after I Thoughtseized one of them. Anything I tried to play was countered by the likes of Broken Ambitions and Cryptic Command.

Overall Record: 4-3

Well, I was happy with my decks performance. If I could re-do it again, I would have tried to make better plays, but for my first large-scale constructed tournament, I am satisfied. My tiebreakers gave me a 23rd place finish out of 96 original entrants, although I was just out of the prizes.

High Points of the tournament:
-Meeting both Davids who showed up at 9:30 with a twelve pack of Coke which he shared
-Getting 3 packs from one David’s prizes because I lent him cards
-Meeting Sean, another member of Power 9 Pro, and seeing him qualify for nationals

Low Points of the tournaments:
-Getting Thought Hemorrhaged for 3 Cryptics and 9 damage
-Not making top 8

All in all, it was a great tournament, and the top eight decks can be found here. I may or may not be going to Grand Prix Seattle, but If I do, be sure to come and say hi, the bright orange shirts are hard to miss.